Highlanders alone in a foreign land

The Jose Amalfitani Stadium will be empty when Jaguares hosts the Highlanders. Photo: 
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The Jose Amalfitani Stadium will be empty when Jaguares hosts the Highlanders. Photo: worldstadiums.com
It's all a tad surreal. Travel around the world to get to a game in a foreign country which will now take place in front of empty stands.

The Highlanders could be excused for failing to focus on the match when the side takes on the Jaguares in Buenos Aires tomorrow.

The match is going ahead but only after the government authorities in the Argentinian capital directed that while major sports events may take place in the city as scheduled, for the next 30 days there will be no spectator presence.

So the Jaguares will have no home support at Jose Amalfitani Stadium.

Argentina was the first country in Latin America to record a death from Covid-19 although the continent does not appear to be as hard hit as other areas.

It is likely to have little impact on the actual playing of the game but will just be a different experience for the players.

Sanzaar will continue to monitor health authority and government directives on the virus in all countries in which it plays.

Apart from the Jaguares’ match in Buenos Aires, all other round seven matches will continue as normal.

The Highlanders spoke to media yesterday before the decision was announced the game would take place behind closed doors.

The side has been taking measures to stay healthy and is taking temperatures every morning. It is making sure players wash their hands and keep clean and medical staff have been kept busy monitoring players’ health.

The home team has been tough to beat at home although the Hurricanes did manage to win in Buenos Aires earlier this season.

The Highlanders had Wednesday off to get over the travel and readjust their body clocks following the game against the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend.

Head coach Aaron Mauger said it had been a tough review after the Bulls game but the side simply had to keep learning and gain experience. From there it needed to put a performance on the park.

Easier said than done perhaps especially against a Jaguares team which has become a hard side to get in front of.

It has a tough set of forwards who will hit hard and be physical on the game line. The backs are not rock stars but do the basics well and are ruthless when the chances come along.

Mauger said the side had to be ruthless but it was taking a while to learn and a tough game in Argentina was not for the faint hearted.

The forwards simply must not make mistakes while the tactic of kicking the ball away would again come under scrutiny as the home team was quick off its line.

The set piece will come under examination but Josh Dickson is back to help in the lineout while Dixon will add some solidity to the front row.

Both teams have flown to Argentina after being in South Africa.

Highlanders captain for the game Ash Dixon said it had taken them 19 hours to get to their hotel in Buenos Aires from South Africa.

A long way to go and now a game to play in an empty stadium.

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